Monday, December 11, 2006


Well, we toured the property in Kenosha yesterday. We are praying about starting a church and faith community there.

Last time--over a year ago--we were just going along with our friends out of curiosity, and we didn't care much for what we saw. This time, we looked everything over as possible buyers--when the eye tends to be more critical, in my experience--but we liked it a whole lot more!

There were a number of things that were actually a lot better than we remembered. One of the big surprises was the church. I had completely forgotten all the stained glass--quite lovely, and two especially beautiful windows in the front. It was bigger than we remembered, seating at least 500, and it was older too, built in the late 19th century. I would have pegged it in the 30's or 40's, based on the carmel color of all the woodwork. The sanctuary really could be lovely with a fresh coat of paint and new carpet.

The school building was not three stories as I remembered but two, plus a newer two-story wing added on--quite large. All the classrooms--ten or so?--were so spacious, bigger than I remembered, and all had high ceilings and lots of windows. We could easily imagine some of them being turned into dorm-style rooms--they could hold an awful lot of bunkbeds! And lofts, if need be--the ceilings looked to be 16 feet tall.

There was a large lunchroom in the basement, with a wood laminate flooring that was nicer than I remembered, complete with round tables and chairs. (Everywhere we looked, they were leaving desks, bookshelves, dishes, etc.--even a snowblower.) The only room that was smaller than I remembered was the kitchen, thank goodness--I was overwhelmed by it last time. It was fully stocked with pots and pans and even a school-size quantity of plates, cups, saucers and glasses. There was even an old pizza oven--apparently one of those "they don't make 'em like this anymore" items.

Best of all, there was a gym with a 3/4 basketball court and--a stage!, larger than I remembered, with working red velvet curtains.... The kids were already staging plays. They are excited and ready to move now--a complete turnaround from when we first casually threw out the idea awhile back.

Oh, and how did I forget to mention the complete children's library that came with the school? They had to drag me out of there. I kept recognizing friend after old friend, and many friends-of-friends that I'd heard about but had yet to read for myself. I'm still drooling.

As for living quarters, there were two more buildings full of rooms. The old convent had a total of 14 private rooms, furnished with beds, desks and dressers. Downstairs there were three rooms which had their own bathrooms, and upstairs were two community bathrooms with showers and 11 bedrooms with sinks in the corner of each room. The rooms had sort of an institutional feel, but they had a nicer, warmer design than I remembered, and replacing the linoleum flooring with something warmer would do a lot!

The convent also contained a library, a small office space or two, a good-sized kitchen with a pass-through window to a small dining room, a full basement with laundry and rec rooms, and a chapel that is Papa Rooster's favorite room in the whole complex. It has pews (with kneelers!) for maybe 25 people, some lovely stained glass windows, and a beautiful marble altar on a marble dais. The whole convent is set up perfectly for those who want to make a personal retreat.

We'd probably live next door in the rectory, which was set up with four suites for unmarried priests. Each suite had a bedroom with its own bath, and an adjoining room with lots of bookshelves (yessss!) that would have been used as a study. There is one large living room and closets galore--not sure why they needed so many closets, some of them huge, but I can sure imagine filling them. There were some more office spaces that could easily be used as bedrooms, plus a kitchen, dining area, powder room, full basement with laundry (and laundry chute accessible from each floor, the sight of which warmed this mother's heart!) and another rec room area.

And all this for possibly a little more than double what we'd get for our house if we sold it...can you believe it? Papa Rooster could keep his current job, too, for as long as need be; his commute will actually be cut in half if we move.

The only disappointment, to us, is that there is so little green area that comes with it. But there is Lake Michigan, which you can see from the front doors, a ten-minute walk straight down that sidewalk. It is public there too, although we want to find out what the beach is like at that point. The kids said they saw a small area, big enough to play soccer in, though we didn't really see it--the ground was all snow-covered. We didn't drive around the neighborhood much either, to see if there was a nearby park. But it may be that God just wants us to embrace urban living and the kind of ministry that goes with living in an urban area, and we're very open to that.

We wouldn't go into this alone, however. Our next step is to present our vision to the clergy of the Chicago-area AMIA (Anglican Mission in America) churches and ask them all to support it. It would serve as a center for retreats, as well as a place to send those desiring discipleship and training over an extended period of time, who would serve in the community, L'Abri style. It would be a place of prayer, as we envision community members meeting daily for morning and evening prayer, at least, not as a strictly-enforced requirement, but as an availability that retreat-goers could join in. Healing ministries, service ministries, education for the children of the community and for aspirants to the clergy--all of these would be part of the vision.

Which we need to write up! It's been in our heads for so long, it shouldn't be too hard.

Thanks in advance for your prayers as we take these next steps. It is our sense that we are to take them, trusting God to close the doors if this is not the way in which we are to walk. It does seem that He is doing something here!


tonia said...

How exciting!!! It sounds like a wonderful adventure. I am drooling over the building prospects. :)

5KidMom said...

Wow!! What an exciting time. The buildings sound spectacular. Obviously you are seeking God's will in this, but I also find the reaction of your children intriguing. Sometimes young ones seem to listen to their instincts when we, as adults, are afraid to do so. Perhaps that is why Chist tols us to come to Him as the little children. I'll keep praying.

Anonymous said...

I was praying for you all weekend. Sounds so exciting, esp. after all the waiting you have been doing. Hopefully we can connect sometime via phone and hear more about what God is doing. We'll keep praying!

the hoskins 5